Design Festival: FLOW! Getting Around the Changing City

Getting around a city of millions is a miracle of design, engineering and cooperation. In conversation, on foot, by bus, train, bike and ferry, Van Alen’s weeklong Spring Festival this June invites participants to experience and consider the present and future of urban mobility.

Starting with a bus tour in Manhattan on Sunday, June 17th, and continuing with daily events through a variety show on Governor’s Island on Saturday, June 23rd, FLOW! offers multiple opportunities for urbanists of all stripes to enjoy our constantly moving and changing New York City.

“We want to bring together the urban planners and designers of today with the city-makers of tomorrow,” says Van Alen Curator of Public Programs Robin Schatell, “During the festival, we will imagine new approaches to moving people through our streets, sidewalks, and waterways.”

The program builds on Van Alen’s research, public programs, and design competitions that have focused on urban well-being and climate adaptation in recent years.

Following up on the success of Van Alen's 2016 L Train Shutdown Charrette, where design teams proposed implementable and sustainable interventions that looked beyond shuttle buses and private cars, this year’s Delancey, Grand & Essex Streets charrette asks multidisciplinary teams to propose design solutions for moving traffic, pedestrians, bikes, and buses safely at this contested crossroads. This intersection in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge faces the maintenance-related shutdown of the L train next year and the anticipated influx of thousands of re-routed L train commuters.

At a related event, festival participants have the opportunity to test out their stamina and navigational skills with Everything but the L Train: The Williamsburg Challenge, an afternoon relay race to Williamsburg from Union Square. Working in groups, participants will be assigned a mode of transportation—anything except private cars and the L Train—to get themselves to Williamsburg. Along the way, they will use GPS mobile technology to track their time, mood, and roadblocks. All groups will meet at a designated Williamsburg location to share data, travel stories, observations, and experiences in conversation with an urban transportation planner.

This year’s festival also expands on Van Alen’s efforts to develop collaborative partnerships. The Delancey, Grand & Essex Streets charrette is being presented in partnership with Grand Street’s New Design High School, which is steps from the Williamsburg Bridge. Our Going and Coming Crossroads Conversation is being held in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza in partnership with the Brooklyn Historical Society. Brooklyn Giro Bicycle Tours is guiding our participants through a 15-mile bike ride through Brooklyn’s changing neighborhoods. The festival’s closing event on Saturday, June 23, our Variety Show, will be on Governors Island as part of Figment NYC.

In conjunction with the AIA Architecture Week, which coincides with FLOW!, we are presenting Mind the Gap, a panel discussion on improving urban mobility through science.

Flow! Getting Around the Changing City continues Van Alen’s tradition of producing innovative programs to engage people in understanding and transforming city life.

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Cite: "Design Festival: FLOW! Getting Around the Changing City" 02 Jun 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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